What Your Typical Day Was Like During ‘The Golden Age’ Of Commercial Flying

Flying was more than just a mode of transportation throughout the 1950s–1970s era; it was an elegant and luxurious experience. Graham M. Simons, an aviation historian, recalls this unique era and characterizes air travel as remarkable due to its smoothness, speed, and luxury. Large chairs were provided for passengers, and the crew members looked like they belonged in a fashion magazine. Simons observes that individuals would dress elaborately for flights, highlighting the importance of the event.

Few Options, High Prices

The Golden Age of Air Travel offered fewer possibilities than the abundance of flying options available now, but at much higher prices. For example, in 1955, you would have paid $138 for a round-trip ticket from Chicago to Phoenix; after accounting for inflation, that amount would be around $1,200 today. Guillaume de Syon, an aviation specialist, draws attention to the significant cost difference, pointing out that flying during this time may be four to five times more expensive, especially for foreign travel, making it only affordable for the wealthiest people.

Exquisite Cuisine and Service

Airlines went all out to wow customers with delicious food and excellent service. Airlines promoted their flights as opulent means of transportation by serving elaborate meals that included foie gras and caviare. Traveling by air is made more appealing by the fact that some even held fashion presentations while in flight. Suzy Smith, a former flight attendant, has pleasant memories of serving foie gras and beluga caviar during the in-flight meal.

relaxed atmosphere

There was something easygoing about flying in this age, almost like going to a cocktail party. It was expected of passengers to dress in formal wear, with coats, ties, and shirts being the standard. Passengers were permitted to transport strange objects, such pet birds in shoeboxes, on board due to laxer security standards. This feeling of liberty added to the carefree and entertaining flight experience.

The Experience of Pan Am

Particularly Pan Am was notable for its unmatched opulence and glitz. Joan Policastro, a former employee of Pan Am, remembers the glamorous meals and upscale lounges that were provided for travelers on the airline’s star-studded flights. Pan Am established the benchmark for first-class air travel during the Golden Age, so flying with them was like traveling in the lap of luxury.

Tight Requirements for Flight Attendants

Not only were flawless service and proper appearance required of flight attendants during this time, but they also had high behavioral and appearance standards. Air hostesses, or female flight attendants, were obliged to dress in white gloves, high shoes, and even corsets. Reflecting the emphasis on image during this era, airlines set strict requirements about appearance, hair length, weight limits, and even marital status.

Warm Recollections & Memories

People still have pleasant memories of the Golden Age of Aviation despite the passage of time. Organizations such as World Wings, which are made up of ex-Pan Am workers, preserve the memories and remember the time when flying was an actual experience. The era when flying was considered a luxury, elegant, and thrilling means is no longer present, but the enchantment of that era endures in the memories of those who were a part of it.

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